Spending a little time with the fam at Walt Disney World this week. We're more into the original Happiest Place on Earth (Disneyland) but we thought we'd give "The World" a shot for a change. I miss being able to walk everywhere. Disney World enthusiasts cite its size as an advantage, but I'm not sold on it -- especially after 45 minutes on a bus to get somewhere.
One thing both my wife and I've noticed is an abundance of automated external defibrillators around the parks and resort hotels. The AED count is staggering around Disney World. An article in the Orlando Sentinel suggested there are approximately 700 AED units in WDW's 47 square miles. They are certainly easy to spot.
Walking past another AED every 10 minutes or so got me thinking about how often they are put to use. A maintenance guy working on one of the units said they've saved a few lives already. He also told a story about why Disney is adding so many more units. I couldn't confirm the account, but he told me the company's former CEO Michael Eisner suffered a heart attack at EPCOT and no AED was readily available.
It is public record that Eisner suffered a heart attack and required open-heart surgery, but a heart attack is not the same thing as cardiac arrest and an AED is only used for the latter. A guest died on Expedition Everest with no AED handy about a year before the sudden explosion of units around the "World." I'm more inclined to think that had something to do with the decision although Disney has publicly denied it.
Having the AED units available is a great thing and regardless why Disney decided to sprinkle them so liberally around, they are here and well-marked. However, seeing an AED on the wall is absolutely useless to you if you don't know when or how to use it.
If someone collapses in front of you and an AED is available, I recommend grabbing it and turning it on. Even if your last CPR class was in high school PE more than 30 years ago, the AED will give you some direction. Most adults with a passing knowledge of telephones and enough gumption to try could probably muddle through the use of an AED without training.
The maintenance guy told me that Disney's version automatically calls 911 and gives responders the location of the unit when you pull it off the wall. Giving responders your exact location is enough reason to pull the thing out even if you aren't sure you're going to use it.
To the get the most out of these machines, you really need to take a class. Defibrillators aren't foolproof. Any instructor who tells you otherwise shouldn't be teaching. They aren't hard to use, but there are two things to keep in mind to make them absolutely safe:
- Don't push the shock button on someone who is awake. Unconscious, fine, but not if he or she is awake. The machine only sees what the heart is doing and doesn't know if the victim is awake or not -- that's your job.
- Don't push the shock button if anyone is touching the victim. When the victim gets a shock, anyone touching him or her could get one, too. Think of a shock as a faulty switch: if your heart is stopped it might start it again, but if it's beating fine a shock could stop it cold.
Having AED units all over the place is a great new trend in public safety, but they can only help you if you help yourself.
- Defibrillator Definition
- Heart Attack vs Cardiac Arrest
- Hands Only CPR Video
- Before You Take a CPR Class
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